There are footballing reasons to start Philippe Coutinho against Sevilla on Wednesday, with the player having played 30 minutes for Brazil twice over the recent international break and while perhaps not ready to go the full 90 minutes at least ready to play 60 should Jürgen Klopp decide to start him.
The best reason to start him, though, might be to shut up the Catalan press and stop the reports from journalists who at least position themselves as being briefed by the La Liga giants. Because ahead of their return to the Champions League on Wednesday, said Catalan press are at it again.
As claimed by Don Balon and reviving a story that has been floated at least twice already over the past month, Barcelona have sent word to Coutinho via his agent that if the player can resist Liverpool’s efforts to cup tie him hey will return to sign him in January. And if he can’t, then they won’t.
They further claim that Liverpool were willing to sell Coutinho over the summer but that Barcelona weren’t willing to meet the English club’s unreasonable asking price—continuing a lie established by the Barcelona board to absolve themselves of any blame for failing to land Coutinho.
Whether there’s any truth to the current story, though—whether Barcelona actually made a request of Coutinho in the first place, and if they did whether it’s a current, open request or something they suggested three weeks ago and have since dropped—is a question with no good answer, unfortunately.
If Coutinho starts, though, it won’t matter. Whether it’s the truth, another round of Barcelona lies, or just the Catalan press spinning stories to fill column inches and get hits. The quickest, easiest way to end all of this as quickly as possible is to cup tie the player at the earliest possible moment.